Monthly Archives: April 2012

Tokyo Jinja on CNNgo Today

If you’ve been to an antiques market in Tokyo or one of the area’s many shrine sales in the past few years, it’s likely you’ve come across Jacqueline Wein — or Tokyo Jinja as she’s known to her dedicated band of online followers.

-Lisa Jardine on CNNgo

So today was a fun day! I was featured in an article about antiquing at the Kawagoe shrine sale on CNNgo. I’ve been getting positive feedback and lots of love all day! When I started this blog a year and a half ago, I never expected it to grow into the incredible place it has become – a crossroads of East and West – for design lovers around the world. I want to thank all my lovely readers and friends, and in particular the article’s author Lisa Jardine, who has her own blog – Wasabiwabi – where she chronicles her experiences here in Japan.

To read the article in full, click here. For more posts about shrine sales, click that topic under the categories list on the right. For information, dates and times of sales, click the Shrines Sale/Antique Show tab at the top of the blog. And as always, I am happy to answer questions and help you find the antique object of your dreams! I can be reached via email at jacquelinewein[at]

Beautiful Byobu…Japanese Screens at The Nezu Museum and at Home

In honor of the just opened exhibit Irises and Eight Bridges: Masterpieces by Kōrin from the Nezu Museum and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I have gathered some images of Japanese byobu (screens) in Western interiors. If you are looking for more details on these extraordinary screens, take a look at a post I wrote last year, Ogata Korin’s Iris Masterpieces Reunion Postponed, when the exhibition was originally supposed to have taken place. I didn’t think there was any reason to recreate the wheel, so this post is going to be pure eye candy.

Byobu literally means “wind wall”  which gives a clear sense of their original purpose – to block drafts. Over time their mobility and flexibility allowed them to be used almost anywhere, to block unsightly objects or repurpose a room, as well as serving as beautiful backdrops for tea ceremony and ikebana. Ornate screens and those using gold and silver leaf helped proclaim the status of their owner. Like much of Japanese artwork, screens originated in China but were slowly but surely domesticated and changed in Japan, with a high point being the introduction of paper hinges, allowing the artist a single large canvas to create an image, rather than completely divided panels.

Today, screens are more likely to be hung on the wall rather than stood on the floor and like blue & white porcelain, they work in almost any design style. Here John Saladino places a simple 2 panel screen with other traditional Japanese items – an incredible mon covered lacquer trunk and altar candlesticks.

In a completely contemporary room with a strong Japanese vibe (note the shoji screens) Jonathan Straley hangs an Edo period byobu above the bed.

Meg Braff uses an ukiyo-e style screen depicting everyday business in this room filled with modern casual Chinoiserie details.

In Renny Renolds and Jack Staub‘s dining room we also have some modern Asian touches like the quirky bamboo chandelier and woven chairs.

I adore Bruce Shostak‘s little banquet with its golden screen highlighted by moody colors.

Changing gears entirely, there are other byobu made with squares of silver leaf that tend to be very simple, sometime even entirely plain. This dining room by Windsor Smith positively glows with its fabric covered walls and silver screen.

Michael Smith uses a simple silver-leafed screen as a highlight behind his sofa, placed on the floor and used as a backdrop. I love that he has layered a small painting on top of it.

Jerry Jacobs uses a similar screen in a similar fashion in this San Francisco living room.

Caitlin Creer uses a Japanese screen on the wall behind her bed. While it functions to highlight the headboard and lamps, its real purpose in being there is to block an off-center and unsightly window. For more on her bedroom, click here.

This entry hall by Mallory Marshall and James Light uses a giant peacock screen in much the way it might have been used originally.

Here it is yet again, demonstrating its decorative power. I assume the stylist and the photographer couldn’t resist re-using it or it is blocking something they would rather not have in the photo.

Another John Saladino vignette with an amazing Edo period screen, this time mixed in with European antiques. For more of this amazing house, click here.

The placement of a screen on the wall allows a designer to alter the volume of the space, whether it be to enlarge it or make it smaller. This screen may not be Japanese, but I had to include it for its extraordinary placement in antique dealer Peter Hinwood’s giant high-ceilinged room. It unifies a disparate set of objects hung gallery style below and brings the ceiling down to make the room cozier. This is cluttered at its best!

Here stylist Peter Frank has hung not a Japanese screen but instead a Korean one, working in a similar but opposite fashion, pushing up a low ceiling.

This golden screen is such a focal point in this eclectic room by Lazaro Rosa-Violan you almost can’t look at anything else as it pulls your eye back and upwards. As a result, the volume of the space is what is emphasized.

Volume in Erin Fetherston’s loft bedroom is emphasized in the reverse, with the screen low down on the floor, the empty space above it is what you notice most.

I can’t say it enough, if you are in Japan over this next month, make the effort to get to the Nezu Museum as this exhibit should not be missed and the exhibit is only running until May 20. I don’t know if these National Treasures are likely to be reunited again anytime soon.

And speaking of those bridges, a few readers have had trouble understanding their depiction on the screens. Korin has painted them with that flattened perspective unique to Japanese art. I think this live example helps make it clear.

Let me know what you think of the exhibit!

Related Posts:
Ogata Korin’s Iris Masterpieces Reunion Postponed

Image credits: 1. & 12, House & Garden June 1998, photo credit: William Waldron, 2. via Jonathan Straley, photo credit: Matthew Millman, 3. House Beautiful June 2007, photo credit: Simon Upton, 4. Elle Decor March 2008, photo credit: William Waldron, 5. New York Spaces 12-1-11, 6. House Beautiful December 2010, photo credit: Victoria Pearson, 7. Metroplitan Home?, date unknown, 8. via Jerry Jacobs Design, 9. via Caitlin Creer Interiors, 10-11. House Beautiful January 1999, photo credit: William Waldron, 13. via Stylebeat, from Rooms to Inspire in the City by Anne Kelly, photo credit: Tim Street-Porter, 14. House Beautiful October 201o, photo credit: William Abranowicz, 15. via Lazaro Rosa-Violan, 16. Vogue May 2011, photo credit: Claiborne Swanson Frank

Pale & Interesting…More Mirrors From Dave Coote and Atlanta Bartlett

So my subconscious kept percolating about this little book on my coffee table – The Relaxed Home by Atlanta Bartlett – and the idea of links between it and my last post on mirrors. A little gift from a friend for design inspiration after we bought our beach house, I have enjoyed its photographs of pretty vignettes and romantic rooms. I decided to do a little research about Ms. Bartlett and it turns out that she and her husband Dave Coote are both bigwigs in the world of styling and interior design. She is a stylist with a series of books under her belt and he is an interior and furniture designer known for his use of reclaimed materials. Between the two of their websites and portfolios, I seem to have hit the mother lode of grouped plateaus and other vintage mirrors. At this point, if you had no interest in yesterday’s post, you might stop reading, but if you loved it, time to open up your Pinterest page, because you will surely be pinning!

His portfolio is full of simply styled rooms chock full of detail, like these three engraved mirrors hanging above a bed.

There is a sparkling all white and silver Christmas mantle.

I guess Dave Coote saw and loved the 2003 Martha Stewart Living cover too.

Another mirrored grouping in an entry hall.

And again, above a daybed in a rustic cabin.

Together they also have an online store called Pale & Interesting, where this incredible antique mirror is for sale.

While their aesthetic is definitely linked to Martha Stewart and Rachel Ashwell of Shabby Chic, they add their particularly casual Aussie-Kiwi white sensibility to the spaces they design. You can just tell that all of the following kitchens are not found in the USA.

They paint floors white or pickle them a light color in many of the spaces for a dreamy look, like this white bedroom…

…and bath. If some of these spaces seem familiar to you it is because they also run a photographic locations agency and many of their spaces have been styled in advertisements and shelter magazines.

This painty white aesthetic is also hugely popular in Japan and you see it in styling at clothing and home goods stores and even at some charming antique market booths, like these at the Oedo market.

This one is more French, but similar in overall feel.

I love these white spaces, but I am not sure I could give up color…What about you?

Related Posts:
Perfectly Pale…Megan Morton’s Australian Home
More Pale Grey From Abroad

Image credits: All photos via Dave Coote or Atlanta Bartlett except the first and final two from me.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…Vintage Etched and Engraved Plateaus

My last post finished up with a comment on charming vignettes of objects with handles, but as I lay in bed last night I kept feeling I had forgotten something. This morning I realized that I had – and not only from that post – but one prior as well. I had found this photo from Anne Kelly’s new book Rooms to Inspire by the Sea and meant to include it in the post on her book. After I had forgotten it there, I decided to use it in yesterday’s post as it was yet another example of display with handles, but I forgot it once again. So a double oops has spawned its very own post.

Anyway, to make a long story short, I love this image of grouped mirrors over the painted vintage dresser, although I am a little less excited by the heads.

Groupings of mirrors can be easy and inexpensive to create, adding a sense of jewelry to any room. Etched and engraved round plateaus are my favorites, made not only to hang on the wall, but also to place on dressing tables to hold bottles of lotions and perfumes, keeping wood surfaces safe. This tear sheet from Martha Stewart Living, dating to the early 1990s, shows a few beautiful examples up close. You’ll notice a little pen note written in the corner – I actually tracked down the dealer of the small oval mirror and tried to buy it – but I couldn’t wrest it away from one of the stylists on the shoot who bought it for themselves.

About ten years later, the magazine featured plateaus again in this stunning bathroom lined with shelves to hold the largest collection I have ever seen. The variety of shapes and sizes just takes my breath away!

I have been collecting similar antique etched mirror plateaus for years and I am hanging them on the wall in our bedroom at the beach house. I have placed the mirrors so that they reflect the ocean and the beach back into the room. The larger one engraved with stars is one of my very early antique purchases, which I believe I bought in 1992 in Annapolis, Maryland. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to find the others, only two have surfaced so far, so I am hunting for some more, both in my own boxes and out in the marketplace.

I have my eye on this one…

…and this one.

A few years ago Williams Sonoma sold modern versions of the mirrors, but they lack that certain something that you only get with an antique. Call it patina, call it personality, call it whatever, but definitely missing.

The round plateaus are not the only etched mirrors to catch and keep my attention. I love the long floral engraved ones common to old medicine cabinets and bathrooms. I love the tongue in cheek placement of this pretty vintage one.

Etching or engraving isn’t even necessary – just a great bevelled edge will do – especially if you have the little glass star bolts. You can reinvigorate an old mirror by adding them, easily found at hardware stores according to this article. I have passed up many mirrors in my day because they were missing them.

A scalloped or ruffled bevelled edge paired with an unusual shape makes this one a winner too. I bought this for my hall bath, but it was the wrong size so I am using it in my daughter’s bedroom instead.

Small decorative mirrors like these are wonderful on dressing tables and in the bath. They are commonly found in Asia, so keep your eyes open at the shrine sales.

Irregular gallery walls filled with a variety of old mirrors are another favorite.

Love the hanging chains on all these frameless ones.

The variety and coloration here are outstanding. Love the mix in with other objects and images.

Image credits: 1. Rooms to Inspire by the Sea, by Anne Kelly, photographs by Tim Street-Porter, 2-3. Martha Stewart Living, photo credits unknown, 4. me, 5-6, 10. via Etsy, 7. Williams Sonoma Catalog, 8.House Beautiful April 2009, photo credit: Lisa Romerein, 9. Country Living Magazine November/December 2001, 11. New York Magazine October 7, 2002, 12.  Haskell Harris in Southern Living, April 2009, photo credit: Charles Walton IV, 13. Ben Brougham in Lonny Magazine Aug/Sept 2010, photo credit: Patrick Cline, 14. via Pinterest.

Battledores and Badminton…A History Of Hanetsuki Through Ukiyo-e

Hanetsuki, Chikanobu 1896

Art can tell us a particular cultural and historical tale.  If you look up the origins of badminton, surprisingly enough, Wikipedia credits its founding to British Army officers stationed in mid 18th century India. Somehow they forget to mention its much earlier roots in similar games throughout Asia, such as a game called hanetsuki in Japan. If you click on the ukiyo-e print above, you’ll see that the characters are all holding a wooden paddle, called a hagoita, used to hit a shuttlecock in a game much like badminton, although without a net.  Traditionally played by girls and women on New Years, the gaily decorated paddles are still sold today, and vintage and antique ones can be found by hunting around markets and shrine sales.

Because of their quick turnaround time, mass production and inexpensive prices, ukiyo-e prints depict just about anything and everything in Japanese society, hanetsuki not withstanding, and examples abound. I love the pale Edo period examples, such as this Utamaro print from 1804.

Women Playing Hanetsuki at New Year, Kitagawa Utamaro I, c. 1804

None of the women seem to be playing very actively.

Hanetsuki, Musume shichihenge no uchi, Utagawa Toyokuni I

Although, here she really does seem to be getting into her game.

Hanetsuki, Kunisada-Utagawa-Toyokuni-III

Make sure to look at all the textile details on the kimono too.

Girls Playing Hanetsuki (Battledore and Shuttlecock), Kitao Shigemasa 1775

A little photographic proof is nice. I love the way the photographer modeled this picture as if it was a print.

Young women playing hanetsuki, hand colored albumen 1880s by Kusakabe Kimbei

And a late 19th century page from The Illustrated London News has a joyful New Years Day in Yokohama full of hanetsuki and kite flying.

The later prints seem to depict children playing more often than women.

Battledore from Series Life of Children, Shuntei Gyoshi 1896

They are really sweet.

Shuttlecock and Battledore from the series 'Children's Games', Kobayashi Eitaku 1888

There has always been a great connection between kabuki actors and ukiyo-e, with many different artists depicting those characters and stories. I always imagine that the prints were the equivalent of modern posters of pop stars and the like.

Three Kabuki Actors Playing Hanetsuki, Utagawa Kuniyasu, c. 1823

Toyohara Kunichika literally got his start painting the designs for hagoita before going on to become a great Meiji period ukiyo-e artist. Born in 1835, he was demonstrating his artistic talents by the age of 10, working in a shop near his father’s bathhouse where he helped in the design of Japanese lampshades called andon (the same kind of lantern as shown here) and around the age of 12 he began more formal apprenticeship with Toyohara Chikanobu while at the same time designing actor portraits for actual battledores. As he started as a child, it is no wonder to me that his interest in this form never waned.

Rather than designing a scene in which people play hanetsuki like the prints above, these three prints of his depict kabuki actors actually within the frame of a hagoita and date from the 1880s.

These small koban (5 x 7) sized prints show his use of the bright aniline dyes imported into Japan from Germany in the 19th century. They feel almost garish to our modern eye, but the color red signified progress and enlightenment in Meiji Japan. Many thanks to Alex of Toshidama Gallery for sharing these images from an upcoming Kunichika exhibition.

Recently, at the newly re-opened Oedo Market at the International Forum, I have spotted some truly excellent hagoita. Its fun to compare them with the prints above.

It is rare that you see so many unusual old ones together. Prices were quite steep as a result.

And of course I can’t resist adding a modern decorative application. A friend has been collecting vintage hagoita for a wall display in her daughter’s room. You’ll notice she has stuck to sweet kewpie-pie girls – no scary kabuki actors found here – as it might very well give her nightmares.

What is it about decorative display with handles? It is always charming…see the fans and kashigata below.

Related Posts:
Hanga 101…a Quick Primer on Japanese Prints

Image credits: 1. via Ukiyoe-art, 2-5. collection of Museum of Fine Arts Boston, 6 & 9.via Floating Along, 7. The Illustrated London News, source unknown, 8. via Ronin Gallery, 10. via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 11-13. via Toshidama Gallery, 14-15. me, 16. L. Jardine, 17. via Little Emma English Home, 18. Amy Katoh Japan: The Art of Living, photo credit: Shin Kimura.

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